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TOPIC: Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group

Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 05 Oct 2013 00:14 #15206

Hey Gang,

Wondering if we could pull a practice group together for a 3 or 4 month exploration of Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters by Robert Augustus Masters. The book has been out for a few years, so forgive me if you’ve all read it, and I’m behind the times.

I promise you, in 2010, when the book was released, I was most definitely bypassing. Not everything, but the concept was new to me, and I was so glad I’d heard a talk that described it. I made some changes. This book is far more in-depth than anything else I’ve read or listened to.

My idea is this: A group of us decides to read the book. We meet for a hangout once or twice a month, covering a chunk of the book, applying it into our practice, and reflect openly about how the concepts influence our own practice, discuss related reading, etc. If people can make some but not all of the hangouts, no big deal. They’d just be there as a support.

Ken Wilber offers a teaser for the book here, in his interview with the author: http://integrallife.com/node/85982

His voice is shakier than I recall. Almost sounds like he’s talking into a fan. Anyone do that as a kid on a hot day? Shout into a fan? Whaaaaaa. Print is definitely Ken’s medium. Even so, I share his interest in this often overlooked topic.

Related to this is an uncut Tricycle interview featuring John Welwood, the guy who coined the term “spiritual byassing” 30 years ago. This interview deals with spiritual bypassing and the dharma of relationships—attachment v. nonattachment/ absolute v. relative truth/duality v. nonduality. I read it a couple of times. It really resonated with me. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.johnwelwood.com%2Farticles%2FTRIC_interview_uncut.doc

When I think of spiritual bypassing, I’m reminded of its many subtle forms. I’d liken it to growing up around smokers. My mother was a smoker. When she wasn’t smoking, she was lighting cigarettes and leaving them burn in ashtrays all around the old brick house. A cigarette burned in the dining room, for example, while mother was sewing and smoking at the kitchen table. By then, the cigarette she’d chuffed a couple of puffs on in the laundry room had smoldered out. The funny thing was I never noticed the smell or the haze of smoke until I moved out. The ceilings were tall and the light from the windows played off the oak beams. In fact, my memory of the house is brink and stone, custom woodwork and sunlight. I didn’t identify with all the ashtrays. They came in led crystal and brass, Bohemian glass, and kitschy themes. The whole dirty mess was there all along. I was conditioned not to notice it. The party-sized milk glass ashtray matched the punch bowl and dessert plates. It just blended right in. Later, when I’d returned home from college, the smell was intolerable. This has me wondering: What are my spiritual bypassing tendencies? There could be a Marlboro Red and a Zippo lighter flickering away, just below the surface of my awareness, something that is just so habitual, I’m smoking it down and replacing the flint without even realizing it.

What do you say? Any takers?

Be the first to reply and you could receive a complimentary brick of matches featuring the Awakenetwork.org logo. Act fast. And practice like your hair is on fire.
(Does anyone else remember--every restaurant had a giant fishbowl full of complimentary matchbooks sitting on the hostess stand? Right next to the toothpicks and/or mints.)
Last Edit: 05 Oct 2013 00:23 by Colleayn.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 05 Oct 2013 07:38 #15207

I'm in. I'm interested in these ideas quite a bit, especially how one's worldview gets conditioned by early emotional survival strategies. I do think the interviewee is right, that this unconscious dynamic explains a lot. I'm also interested in the gray area between psychology and spirituality. That gray area seems to be where the juice is, too far to the extremes of psychology or spirituality and it becomes dry and procedural. I wonder if the book will talk about this middle zone and I wonder who gets to claim it, psychology or spirituality? Anyway, I'm in.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 05 Oct 2013 16:17 #15211

I'm in, too. I've recently come face to face with some nifty bypassing I've been doing, so I'm interested in learning more.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 05 Oct 2013 18:12 #15217

Yeah I'm definitely in, though because of timezone stuff not sure whether I'll be able to make hangouts...
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 05 Oct 2013 18:20 #15218

Let's wait a week and see who all is interested. Once we have a pool of interested folks, we can work toward accommodating different time zones.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 05 Oct 2013 18:23 #15219

Coupla early thoughts based on that interview (I am NOT a Wilber fan incidentally)... I really identified (particularly from lengthy Mahasi retreats) with the idea that you can observing something - and it seems like you're getting as close to it as you can, because you're not running away from it by distraction etc like you used to do before beginning a contemplative practice - yet actually still bypassing, where on some level you're dissociating or hoping that by observing it it will make it go away. I'm not sure though if there's any way not to go through that stage.

But I'm also interested in the concept that spiritual bypassing can be denying ongoing suffering, because it's a contradiction of the Buddhist message that enlightenment is 'the end of suffering' (I no longer think this, based on awakened laypeople I know, though there are a few possible monastic exceptions, e.g. Ajahn Brahm - and also the Buddha himself clearly found some things a hassle and also had physical pain, but still I'm interested in this being held out as a practice goal in opposition to the idea being presented here about bypassing).
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 06 Oct 2013 16:21 #15233

I'll jump in the pool of interested people. Thanks, Colleayn.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 08 Oct 2013 15:06 #15255

I am definitely interested in participating, sounds great!
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 08 Oct 2013 22:19 #15273

I want to participate.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 08 Oct 2013 22:32 #15274

I just ordered the book.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 14 Oct 2013 19:28 #15506

I've started the book and will threw out some hangout time shortly. I need to troubleshoot my google+ settings. People can hear me, but I can't hear them. I can hear the blips that indicate when people join and leave a hangout, but nothing more. I've reinstalled my plug-in. Still no luck.

Rowan, is there a morning that works for you? If it's 6 pm here, it is 9 am there. Or we could try for your lunch break. It would be great to have you with us.
Does anyone else have a specific schedule request? If not, I'll threw out a few options and we'll begin.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 14 Oct 2013 22:05 #15515

Thanks! I've ordered the book and am waiting for it to arrive. I can do mornings on (my) Monday, Wednesday, or weekend mornings are usually OK too. At a pinch maybe Friday until my 1030AM. I can do a lunch (like the one we're organising with Nadav currently, which is 930PM EST and 12:30pm the following day for me) on Mon, Tue, Wed. Let me know what we can figure out.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 15 Oct 2013 07:36 #15520

My book has arrived. The intro is a good read, I think the book has potential!
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 15 Oct 2013 10:16 #15525

Part of me is very drawn to participate in this, but part of me wants to not lose focus on my main task, and I can just see it derailing me somehow. Am I being too pessimistic?
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 15 Oct 2013 10:27 #15528

Tom Otvos wrote:
Part of me is very drawn to participate in this, but part of me wants to not lose focus on my main task, and I can just see it derailing me somehow. Am I being too pessimistic?

I see the book not as a distraction, but as additional food for thought, helping me see old conditioning and patterns of reacting. All of this is grist for the mill.

However, I'm reading the book fairly slowly. It seems to encourage a more reflective and patient mode of reading. More than a few times I've found myself staring into space, pondering.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 15 Oct 2013 10:44 #15532

Tom Otvos wrote:
Part of me is very drawn to participate in this, but part of me wants to not lose focus on my main task, and I can just see it derailing me somehow. Am I being too pessimistic?

Frankly, I think you're smart to be protective of the little time you have for home practice. Not only is there the reading itself, but this might turn into a social thing which would be even more of a time suck.

(Only you can decide.)
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 17 Oct 2013 20:14 #15624

My copy arrived :cheer:
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 19 Oct 2013 09:48 #15637

If anyone is interested, here are a few resources to supplement your study of Spiritual Bypassing: Scott Kiloby interviews Robert Masters on the subject - kiloby.com/uploads/RobertMasters20110.mp3

An new audio program dealing with shadow work by Robert Masters on Sounds True: www.soundstrue.com/shop/Knowing-Your-Shadow/4277.pd
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 20 Oct 2013 23:11 #15664

Would Sunday Nov. 3rd at 7:30 CT work for folks? That would be 9:30 EST, and 12:30 p.m. Monday for Rowan. (Daylight savings ends on that date in the U.S., so clocks in the Midwest fall back an hour. I don’t think time changes on the East coast.)

Wanting to make sure folks have time to get the book. I am halfway finished. The intro made me laugh. Bliss states are terrific analgesics. Overall, I respect the points that are raised about using spirituality to disconnect from our human emotions and the pitfalls/blindness sometimes associated with the concept of universal love. Bit of a hard push for psychotherapy in places. I have nothing against seeking input from a therapist. Never been a fan of the hard-sell, though.

I've been supplementing this reading with Philip Moffitt's Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering. Moffitt points out that the Buddha thought suffering was noble. Buddha didn't advise people to bypass it. Moffitt says "Our culture's debasement of suffering represents a major loss. It denies the validity of many of the major emotional events in your life. It narrows your life such that you are constantly reacting to a set of questions: How do I get and keep what's pleasant and avoid or get rid of what's unpleasant?" He goes on to point out that Western society wasn't always averse to suffering. The Greek philosophers and playwrights heralded suffering, consistently portraying it as noble. Moffitt says it's ironic that Western culture encourages us to bypass the unpleasant in favor of superficial pleasantries as suffering presents an opportunity for the most relevant, sophisticated, inspiring, and useful inquiry in your life."
I'd read Moffitt's book previously, but it is illuminating to read it in tandem with Spiritual Bypassing.

Let me know if the date and time work for people. Happy reading.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 20 Oct 2013 23:23 #15665

Yup that time is good for me. I'm about a third to a half of the way through. Preliminary thoughts:

- Generally, this is a book I really could have benefitted from reading some years ago, except I wouldn'tve listened to it some years ago because I would've thought I knew better :)

- The assumption that modern society can somehow improve on ancient traditions bugs me. My take would be that the problems often arise not because that tradition lacks something that Western culture can add to make it complete, but because the tradition hasn't been taken as a complete path (cf McMahan's Buddhist Modernism, this happens in traditional Buddhist countries as well as the West, e.g. Mahasi).

- I'm not sure about the dismissal of 'superstition' - this is the same materialism as above that bugs me when it doesn't investigate its own premises - I'd have to have a better sense of how the author separates superstition from genuine synchronicity etc than is provided. Still, it's nice to see this distinction even mentioned b/c for me I'm neither a holus-bolus New Ager (and I like to see The Secret etc critiqued) nor a scientific materialist and it's often put as a one-or-the-other premise.

- I generally agree with the psychotherapy stuff thus far, though I'm not sure the psychotherapy I do would count as what he thinks is 'proper' psychotherapy (i.e. not 'only talking' but bodywork etc?)

- Like I heard Kenneth say in a talk about Trungpa's Spiritual Materialism (and I'm not a Trungpa fan), it's sometimes hard to know what's NOT spiritual bypassing.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 20 Oct 2013 23:32 #15666

Oh, on the point about suffering, I'm always in two minds about this, because on the one hand we DO have a culture which seems to think that there should be no suffering, or the view that suffering is part of a well-lived life, that kind of eudaemonia perspective - but on the other hand, I'm not 100% with the people who think that all suffering serves a purpose, which often seems to be the corollary of the first viewpoint.

The depression that I've gone through - in contrast to times when I had a lot of human suffering due to bad life events, but I wouldn't call it depression - was ugly and near-unbearable, and I can see redeeming qualities in it in the sense that it sent me down a particular path and that I survived through the worst times, but I would absolutely get rid of it in the same way that I'd try to cure myself of an organic disease, that is, any way possible and as much as possible. I particularly resent those who argue that using antidepressants etc is a symptom of our society's avoidance of suffering, which again often seems to be raised in these kinds of arguments - despite the fact that there is obviously an issue with big pharma and with overprescription of these kinds of meds.
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 21 Oct 2013 08:57 #15670

Colleayn wrote:
Would Sunday Nov. 3rd at 7:30 CT work for folks? That would be 9:30 EST, and 12:30 p.m. Monday for Rowan. (Daylight savings ends on that date in the U.S., so clocks in the Midwest fall back an hour. I don’t think time changes on the East coast.)

Is there any chance to move this to be one hour earlier?
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 21 Oct 2013 13:07 #15677

Yes from me. Others?
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 21 Oct 2013 15:15 #15678

Sounds like a good time! And i have just started the book but am finding the intro good so far. Mostly I look forward to the opportunity for real time convos with you guys.

by the way, the clocks do go back an hour here (East Coast USA) on Nov 3rd. If I'm not mistaken central Time is one hour behind Eastern Standard, Mountain Time is 2hrs, and then the West Coast is 3 hrs. So at 7:30 CT on Nov 3rd it will be 8:30 EST.

Given that, as I don't know where you live Andy, does that make a difference to you or do you still need to back it up an hour?
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Spiritual Bypassing Book/Discussion Group 21 Oct 2013 15:20 #15679

jake wrote:
Sounds like a good time! And i have just started the book but am finding the intro good so far. Mostly I look forward to the opportunity for real time convos with you guys.

by the way, the clocks do go back an hour here (East Coast USA) on Nov 3rd. If I'm not mistaken central Time is one hour behind Eastern Standard, Mountain Time is 2hrs, and then the West Coast is 3 hrs. So at 7:30 CT on Nov 3rd it will be 8:30 EST.

Given that, as I don't know where you live Andy, does that make a difference to you or do you still need to back it up an hour?

I'm in Michigan, on EST, and it looks like I misunderstood Colleayn's post regarding the time. Thanks for clearing that up, Jake. The originally proposed time works for me.
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